How cold, dry air can lead to illness and what to do when you get sick

During the winter months, cold, dry air can be irritating, but it can also make you susceptible to getting sick, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Dontae Jones.

The upper part of our respiratory system is lined with moist membranes, which help to capture dirt, dust, viruses and bacteria before they reach the lungs. With cold, dry air, these membranes lose much of their moisture.

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Breathing dry air can irritate respiratory ailments, and in some cases lead to asthma, bronchitis, the common cold, the flu and even nosebleeds. Because the majority of our breathing is done through our nose, cold, dry air can cause the inside of our nose to become dry and irritated.

Cold air is dry because it holds less moisture than warm air. Because the humidity in the winter is so low, any moisture on your body is quickly evaporated, leaving your skin dry and irritated.

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There are several things you can do to help combat the winter cold and dry illness season.

You can put a humidifier in your house or leave bowls of water in rooms around the house; this evaporates and adds moisture to the air.

You can also increase your water intake to stay hydrated.

Eating healthy foods, getting plenty of sleep and proper exercise are all ways to help fight cold and dry air illnesses.

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